Ideas Platform

r e a GARI (language)

7 Mar – 10 Jun 2024

Above: r e a, GARI (language), 2024, (detail). Courtesy the artist.
43–51 Cowper Wharf Roadway
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Sydney Australia

In March 1987 a poster began appearing on the streets of New York City. All black, bar a single pink triangle, it read SILENCE = DEATH. Aware that their own increasingly urgent conversations regarding the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic were not reflected in broader discourse the Silence=Death Collective, led by Avram Finkelstein, had created one of the most iconic slogans of activist history.

In the wake of the 2023 Voice referendum, queer Gamilaraay/Wailwan/Biripi artist r e a has taken Finkelstein’s poster as inspiration to parallel the underlying politics that align both queer and blak bodies. On the exterior of The Gunnery building,
r e a’s large banners depict the words for sun in the Gamilaraay, Wailwan and Biripi languages of the artist’s parents and grandparents. The work continues inside Artspace in the Ideas Platform, here interjected by SILENCE = DEATH and LAND = RIGHTS layering dual messages for audiences to decipher.

r e a has positioned blak, queer power as unavoidable and immutable as the rise and fall of the sun, the light at the end of tunnel.

The text on the Banners and walls translates as ‘sun’ in three languages:
YARAAY: Gamilaraay
DHUNI: Wailwan
TOONAU: Biripi 

The text around the sun on the floor translates in Gamilaraay:
bunbul: meeting place
guurrama-li: resist, stand strong
burranba-li: cause a change

GARI (language) is commissioned by Biennale of Sydney and Artspace, in collaboration with r e a to create a safe space for reflection. Courtesy the artist. The Banner Series and Ideas Platform is supported by Andrew Cameron AM and Cathy Cameron